How Might Todd Helton's DUI Arrest Affect Colorado Rockies' First Base Situation?

By Thom Tsang
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Talk about putting a road block on your own victory lap.

For Todd Helton, his latest misadventures involving a DUI arrest might be more than a black mark on his otherwise trouble-free career. Some have even argued that it might be as good as a call for retirement, as any glory that he might have had with taking the field with the Colorado Rockies, his lifetime home as a ball player, would be diminished by the incident.

For a couple of others who are on the team looking for a full time job, though, this snafu – as unfortunate as it might be – could represent an opportunity. If the 39-year old Helton decides to salvage what he can of a graceful exit from the game instead of facing more questions about the DUI (on top of his diminishing health and ability), life could get a lot more interesting for Jordan Pacheco and Tyler Colvin.

Both players have been key parts to the Rockies season last year – or whatever good that came out of it, anyway. If there’s a vacancy at first base going into Spring Training, it’s likely that there will be some sort of competition between the two to get a look at holding the spot, even though both Pacheco and Colvin both had substantial at-bats as utility men while being shifted all over the field.

In this case, it’s Colvin who would have to be considered the favourite. Pacheco played both first and third base, along with catcher, and ironically enough, the versatility that makes him so valuable might actually hurt him as a candidate for a full-time gig at first base.

In fact, the Rockies have had Pacheco working specifically on catching drills with the team’s catching instructor this off-season, with the potential for an expanded role behind the plate a possibility, even if it’s Wilin Rosario and Ramon Hernandez who will technically be the number-one and two catchers on Opening Day.

What that may mean for Rosario and his sometimes problematic glove is another story. As for Colvin, his role has been relatively straight forward – he’s either a first baseman or an outfielder, and with the team’s outfield set (barring a trade), it means that Colvin would probably have the inside track to be slotted into first base, if only because that’s the only other place he can play.

And there is a good reason for the Rockies wanting to get his bat in there, too. With a .290/.327/.531 triple slash and 18 homers in 452 PA, Colvin definitely has more of the power bat that teams want from their first basemen, compared to Pacheco’s five over 505 PA.

In fact, those numbers almost certainly already make Colvin better than Helton in 2013, barring a unexpected return to form.

All of this, of course, hinges on what will happen with Helton over the next couple of weeks as the team gets closer to reporting to Spring Training. But, it’s possible that his brush with the law may have inadvertently set the table for his successor with the Rockies.

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